In this course, we'll be doing a deep dive on G.A. Cohen's classic book "Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defence." Cohen was trained as an analytic philosopher, and he writes and argues like one--his emphasis is always on presenting clear arguments, carefully distinguishing between closely related concepts, anticipating and responding to possible objections, and so on. In this book he applies these skills to a subject where most writers wallow in continental obscurity--Karl Marx's materialist theory of history--and his combination of precise, "analytic"-style argumentation with close readings of Marx helped to found the school of thought known as "analytic Marxism." The point of this class is to carefully work through Cohen's text, making sure everyone understands the arguments, and then to have open-ended class discussions about whether Marx and Cohen (or, where they disagree, Marx *or* Cohen) are right. Whether you fully subscribe to Marx's theory, are critical of it, subscribe to parts and are critical of other parts, or just don't know what to think, everyone's welcome--a diversity of perspectives will make the class more interesting!
Ben Burgis is a philosophy instructor, a Jacobin columnist, and the author of "Give Them An Argument: Logic for the Left." He's taught a variety of formal and informal logic classes at the college level, and he's publicly debated centrists like Twitch streamer "Destiny" and Bloomberg Opinion's Noah Smith as well as libertarians and right-wingers like Stefan Molyneux, Gavin McGinness, Adam Kokesh, Gene Epstein, Dave Smith, and Yaron Brook.